Thursday, September 15, 2016

Of the coach and The Third

Catching up with Browns coach Hue Jackson and injured quarterback Robert Griffin III . . .

First, Jackson quotes to file and remember for future use.

“The fans might not like me for a while, but they’re going to love me here pretty soon,” he said the other day, less than 48 hours after the season-opening loss in Philadelphia Sunday. “That’s OK. Eventually, they will love me. I promise you that.”

And why is that? “Because,” he said, “I do plan on winning here and I do get it. I know every loss there’s another dagger that drags you down another few feet deeper. That’s OK. I’ve been there before. I’m a fighter. We’re going to get back up and we’re going to keep swinging. We’re going to be fine.”

But wait. There’s more.

The coach said he didn’t take the Cleveland job “to be average and just win a few games and go about my business. I came here to help this organization win a championship.

“How fast that is going to happen? I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s going to be a ton of struggle before there’s a ton of great times, but I don’t worry about people not being happy right now.

“I’m going to do the best job I can with our staff and these players and we’re going to keep working at it. My point is eventually (the fans) will love me because we’re going to win. We’re going to win a championship here for the Cleveland Browns.”

All this over-the-top rhetoric arrives after only one game as head coach of the Browns. One can only imagine what it’s going to be like if (when?) the Browns are still winless after, say, seven or eight games, which is a distinct possibility.

It’s almost as though Jackson senses the annual woe-is-me attitude of the fans toward the Browns and is trying to plug what he thinks is a hole in the their enthusiasm’s dike.

What he fails to realize is there are so many holes in that dike over the years, the fans have become accustomed to the perennial losing. They almost expect it. This is nothing new to them. The annual anger becomes almost commonplace to them.That’s what happens when your team wins only one season-opening game in 18 seasons and puts up only two winning seasons in that time.

But you have to give Jackson some credit. The man sure can shovel it. He is a walking, talking quote book.

At the same time, he definitely has brought a level of energy and positive thinking to Berea that has been lacking ever since the departure a dozen years ago of Butch Davis, whose own brand of motivation carried the franchise to its only playoff appearance since 1999.

Unfortunately, that energy and positive approach is difficult to translate into victories because the current talent is severely lacking in quality. Jackson obviously is not factoring in that dynamic. It was on full display against an Eagles team Sunday that will challenge the Browns for ineptitude this season.

So there you have it. File and remember the aforementioned quotes by the Cleveland coach as the season unfolds. It will be interesting to see how they change.

And now for The Third.

Remember how he wound up on injured reserve? That ferocious collision he had with Philadelphia cornerback Jalen Mills along the sideline late in the fourth quarter Sunday? The one in which he broke his left shoulder and will sit out at least two months?

It sure looked as though the Cleveland quarterback deliberately ran over Mills, who was disengaging from a block by Browns tight end Gary Barnidge at the time. He denies it, saying the collision occurred because Ron Brooks, another Eagles corner, shoved him in the back and that he wasn’t trying to run through Mills.

He defended himself by suggesting the tape of the play supports him. “I did get pushed in the back and at the last second, (Mills) came off (Barnidge) and hit me and I didn’t have the opportunity to protect myself,” he said.

The tape shows Brooks barely touched The Third and Mills did not hit him as much as absorbing the blow. He was struck just as he straightened up after shedding the Barnidge block and took 100% of the impact because the Cleveland quarterback chose a direct path to him rather than slide.

“ . . . I wasn’t trying to run anybody over or make it a bravado moment,” he said. The tape, the one he says backs up his contention, strongly suggests otherwise.

At this point, though, that situation has become moot. The Third is a spectator for the foreseeable future and has nobody to blame but himself even though he doesn’t appear to see it that way.

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